A reporter challenging Missouri’s refusal to allow him to witness an execution isn’t constitutionally guaranteed a right to see someone put to death, the state argued in asking a federal judge to throw out the case, reports the Associated Press. The state also said that it has legal immunity from lawsuits such as BuzzFeed News reporter Christopher McDaniel’s case filed in August. McDaniel countered that someone volunteers to witness an execution, and courts have acknowledged it’s unconstitutional to deprive someone from volunteering, saying they’re exercising their free-speech rights.
McDaniel, a former St. Louis public radio reporter whose stories have been critical of Missouri’s death penalty procedures, applied in 2014 to be a witness “to ensure that executions are carried out in a constitutional manner.” He never got a response, and 17 executions have been carried out since by the state, where 26 inmates are on death row. The next scheduled execution is Jan. 31. The state said, “McDaniel is asking this court to go where no court has gone before: declare that watching an execution is a `benefit’ from the government.” There’s no authority for that “or that McDaniel has a property interest or a liberty interest in watching Missouri carry out an execution,” the dismissal motion said.